New Student Government President Makes History at Rutgers

June 11, 2014

Kristine Baffo ran for president of the Rutgers University Student Assembly to shape her school environment. When she won, she made history.

With 62 percent of the vote, Baffo became RUSA’s first female and first African American president. Now she’s looking forward to her new role on campus.

“Over the past years, not only did the president have the ability to work on students’ issues ranging from quality of life to academics, but the president also had the ability to welcome students into the university and make [them] feel at home,” she said.

But before she won, Baffo had to campaign. So she attended Elect Her–Campus Women Win, a training at Rutgers’ Douglass Residential College that prepared her to put together the best campaign possible.

“Elect Her gave me the tools to organize my thoughts into action plans,” she said. “Most importantly, [it] gave me invaluable advice about mapping out possible networks to help the campaign succeed. These networks included friends, family, co-workers, and student organizations.”

A student senator at the time, Baffo also participated in a panel of student government officers at the training, where she shared her experiences and offered advice to other prospective candidates.

After her successful presidential campaign, Baffo has even more insight to share with any woman thinking about running for office. Here are some of her takeaways.

Build early name recognition.

Kristine was sure to mention her intention to run for office to everyone she met — friends, classmates, and even professors. “It allows people to know that you are serious about the position,” she said. “It gives students the opportunity to ask you about your vision for the school prior to the formal campaign period. Communicating your vision to these core people will help spread your message prior to and during your campaign.”

Elect Her–Campus Women Win

A group of colelge women wearing yellow Elect Her shirts stand around their teacher.
The Elect Her workshop encourages and trains college women to run for student government on their campuses.

Use social media to the fullest.

Baffo found social media to be an important forum for her election. “Utilizing Facebook to create groups and events … increases your reach to the student body,” she said.  She used a Facebook event page to tell students the timeline of the election and her campaign platform. “It is also a good way to introduce yourself. Students [who] are excited about your campaign can even invite their friends to your Facebook event.”

Delegate, delegate, delegate.

Baffo also stressed the importance of always being a student first. “Delegating responsibilities during the campaign will help you maintain your schoolwork and campaign progress,” she said. “I personally found it valuable to divide the campaign team into three committees: endorsements, public relations, and campaigning.” The endorsements committee, she explained, worked on getting votes from different student leaders; the public relations group promoted the campaign on social media; and the campaigning committee made sure that the day-to-day tasks of the campaign ran smoothly.

Embrace the nerves and jump in!

What is Baffo’s advice for college women who might be nervous about taking the leap and running for office? Embrace it! “Being nervous is not a bad thing — it means that you care,” she told us. “Who is better placed in a position than someone [who] has passion? Nervousness is natural; it should not be a reason to stop you from becoming the leader you would like to be. As an individual, a scholar, and a woman, your experiences and knowledge will be invaluable.”



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1 Comment

  1. […] our campus training, Elect Her–Campus Women Win, we see hundreds of college women find their leadership potential and start their political careers by running for student government. In 2014, 78 percent of […]

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